Bolt gets 3rd gold and world record; Farah wins
Published: Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 6:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 6:28 p.m.
LONDON — His place in history already secure, Usain Bolt added to his legend by anchoring Jamaica's 4x100-meter relay team to a world record and capping his second Olympics in a row with three gold medals.
After setting three world records in Beijing four years ago, the "NEW WR" signal didn't flash up on the timing clock for Bolt until the last race on the track at the London Games, as he sped away from U.S. anchor Ryan Bailey to cross in 36.84 seconds. That shaved two-tenths of a second off Jamaica's old world mark.
Only a man like Bolt could upstage Mo Farah. The Briton made it a second Super Saturday for a frenzied home crowd at the Olympic Stadium, winning the 5,000 meters to clinch a long distance double at the London Games.
As good as he was, Farah realized the night belonged to Bolt.
"What he does for the sport, it is absolutely amazing," Farah said. "We take it for granted. We are not going to see a legend like him again."
After winning the 100 and 200 to anoint himself as a "living legend," Bolt went full-throttle one last time at the games, gritting his teeth as his giant stride again made the difference. This time he ran through and dipped at the line to get the world record and turn the U.S.-Jamaican men's sprint rivalry in the favor of the small Caribbean nation of 2.9 million.
"It's always a beautiful feeling to end off like this," Bolt said. "We did it last year in the world championships — for me it is a wonderful feeling."
The United States took silver in 37.04, equaling the old mark that Bolt and co. set last year at the world championships.
Then the party started. Bolt slapped his chest and held three fingers upward. His full trademark "To the World" pose followed and a long parade of flag waving for a nation that celebrated its 50th year of independence during the London Games.
The 80,000-capacity crowd could not get enough, chanting: "We want Bolt. We want Bolt." The showman obliged.
He started shaking his fingers, set off a crowd wave around both tiers of the giant Olympic Stadium, and followed up with his playful antics. He has enchanted the fans, and entranced the competition.
"When I took the baton, I was thinking 'run, run, run for my life,'" Bailey said. "But Usain Bolt is a monster. I was just trying to run."
"He has run the times and he's broken the records. I can definitely give him the title of that — he's a living legend," Bailey said.
Russia had a brilliant day of its own with four gold medals, led by mother Anna Chicherova who cleared 2.05 meters to win the women's high jump.
Allyson Felix won her third gold of the games, giving the 4x400 relay team a big lead halfway through the race and the United States further closed in on winning the medals table with nine gold overall.
Sanya Richards-Ross had an easy relay anchor leg to add this gold medal to her 400-meter gold. Felix earlier won the 200 and 4x100 relay.
For the 80,000 fans though, one more victory for Farah meant more.
Taking the lead with 700 meters to go, Farah staved off all challenges and, riding incessant howls of encouragement, swept away on the home straight. He threw his hands wide in victory, slapped his head and screamed out loud in amazement after he crossed the line.
Again, David Bowie's "Heroes" blared over the speakers, just like it did last Saturday when British athletes won three gold within one hour. Without a doubt, Farah made a great Olympics for Britain even more unforgettable.
"The crowd were amazing, they made an unbelievable noise," Farah said. "Two gold medals, who would have thought that?"
His competitors, too, felt the power of the home fans.
"The crowd helped him. He ran 100 percent and they added another 10," said fourth-place finisher Bernard Lagat of the United States. "So you had a guy running at 110 percent."
Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia threatened until 50 meters out but faded to take silver. Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya won bronze.
Little more than an hour earlier, Russian Yelena Lashmanova had claimed the third world record of the games, in the 20-kilometer walk.
Lashmanova walked past teammate and defending champion Olga Kaniskina within sight of the finish Saturday evening to clock 1 hour, 25 minutes and 2 seconds and win the Olympic gold medal. She improved on the one-year-old world mark by six seconds.
David Rudisha in the 800 and the U.S. women's 4x100-meter relay set new world records in the Olympic stadium.
Earlier Saturday, two-time world champion Sergei Kirdyapkin claimed an Olympic record in the 50-kilometer race walk, the longest event in the track and field program.
And world champion Mariya Savinova of Russia won the Olympic 800-meter title, beating Caster Semenya of South Africa.
The victories gave Russia eight gold to further cement its second-place standing in the track and field medals table, just one behind the United States.
Walking through a glorious morning sunshine in 21 C (70F) heat at the Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace, Kirdyapkin crossed in 3 hours, 35 minutes, 59 seconds to slash 1 minute, 10 seconds off the Olympic record of 2008 champion Alex Schwazer, the Italian who was kicked out of the London Games because of doping.
The men's marathon closes out the track and field program on Sunday.